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London Marathon temperature watch

April 10, 2011
A tulip in Highgate Park

The weekend before the Virgin London Marathon and the temperature is unseasonably high. The skies are cloudless, the sun is blazing and it’s in the early twenties. On a breezeless moment in the sun it genuinely feels like summer. This is unusual – surprising – delightful – just perhaps not marathon weather.

The spring foliage is well on its way out in London

Unblemished foliage is freshly out in London in the comparatively tropical heat

Now, this might not make sense to overseas readers. Perhaps those in sunnier climes are hardier about this sort of thing than us Brits. However, there is barely a better occasion for me to fully indulge our national trait: talking about the weather.

With just two training runs left until race day, Saturday was a leisurely affair. Since the weather was so good, we decided to walk up to Highgate. This is a route I’d run a few times, skirting Finsbury Park before taking a gradual climb up an abandoned railway line.

For once there were comparatively few runners either in the park or treading the gravel-and-dirt path up towards Highgate. Perhaps the glorious morning had called everyone out earlier, but it was equally possible that all but the most hardy runners had been scared off by the unexpected heat.

Once in Highgate, we stopped off in a pub for an afternoon drink (I’ve been off booze since the end of February and have been quite impressed with the number of places offering alcohol-free beer) and got talking to some Australian tourists. The tourists had packed for the traditional British springtime weather – predominantly warm clothes and waterproofs – only to be greeted by some welcome-but-unanticipated warmth. It really has been unseasonably warm.

With the Brighton Marathon and Paris Marathon running this weekend, I began to think about the weather for next week’s London Marathon. Running 26.2 miles in the low twenties is very different from running the same distance in the seasonal norm of low- to mid-teens. Hydration becomes quite a different issue, and I know from past experience that over-heating during a race can be a mighty unpleasant experience.

Having looked at the Met Office medium-term forecast though it looks like the temperature should drop back down to more normal levels. I never thought I’d say this, but if the pleasant warmth of summer could just hold off that little bit longer I’d be grateful…

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